From her years of working at an animal shelter, Mary Stegmann knew that while elderly people depend on their pets, they can’t always get their dogs and cats to the vet and grooming appointments the animals need. After Stegmann was laid off, she decided to start a pet taxi business for elderly pet owners and those too busy to take their animals to various appointments. Stegmann took advantage of New York State’s Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP), which allows small business owners to collect unemployment insurance until their business becomes profitable.
SCORE’s online and in-person class offerings gave Stegmann a solid foundation in taxes and business strategy. Her mentors, Bob and Carol Vakiener, offered input on her business plan, marketing ideas and strategy for startup. “They are still my mentors,” says Stegmann. “I’m confident any questions I have down the road, they will be there to assist me. They both have helped me with assurance and confidence in what my goals are for this business, and have repeatedly complimented and praised my hard work.”
They also provided moral support on a more personal matter: Two weeks before Stegmann was set to launch, her father passed away. The Vakieners reassured her that a delay wouldn’t sacrifice what Stegmann had already achieved – and Stegmann’s thriving business is now dedicated to the memory of her father.